The myth that self shooting saves money.

In the UK, some broadcasters have whole heartedly embraced the idea of self shooting, where instead of a camera crew comprising of a camera operator and sound recordist the director shoos the program sometimes with help from a recordist but often they are on their own.

It can be done, if you have not seen it "Cartel Land" is an amazing movie.

But its a very contentious issue because when its done badly everyone suffers.

  • The DP's suffer from less work (boo hoo).
  • The directors or AP's shooting it suffer because they cannot concentrate on gathering the content - its impossible to bring out the best in a contributor if you are hiding behind a camera.  Psychologically its pretty simple: you cannot trust someone you cannot make eye contact with.
  • The ingest takes longer = more storage cost.
  • The editors hate it because they have to wade through hours of material to find the good stuff (is there is any).
  • The producers hate it because they don’t have the elements they need to make a story.
  • PM’s hate it because it costs more as the edit takes longer.  Oh and ask PMs about kit damage!
  • Exec Producers hate it because it often leads to very dull TV - which is worse as the public then don't watch it.

The debate around self shooting has been going on and on for years now but last week on the Facebook group “People who work in TV who like to shoot the breeze” there was one of the most insightful conversations on the subject I have ever seen, including contributions from directors, editors and at least one series/exec producer.

We know it why it happens (money), but there is a big body of opinion that says this is wrong and why TV (in the UK at least) is failing apart.  

I should say again: there are some are very very good self shooters and some of them put some "camera operators" to shame.  But not every director makes a good shooter and there are some situations where you just need someone looking after the visuals, someone concentrating on sound and someone asking the questions.

Let hope someone can find a away to make the grown ups in charge of the money to realise there are better ways of making TV than sending out lonely figures into the wild with a camera and hoping something good comes back.